The WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia, Chapter 9

The "WEDEMEYERs of Eastern Australia" section of this site is divided into 10 chapters, and also appendices extending over 5 pages (sections). Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the Sitemap page. Please note the WEDEMEYER photo galleries here.

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GHL's daughters: Minnie & Elizabeth WEDEMEYER

Lucy Wilhelmina (Minnie) WEDEMEYER

Photo of Minnie on 14 Mar 1887 Photo dated 14 Mar 1887
Minnie WEDEMEYER
b. 28 Jun 1870, Gayndah Qld.

My initial motivation in researching the WEDEMEYERs was how little I knew about my grandmother. Pictured at the left is a photo of 16 year old Minnie. It was developed onto a sheet of glass, later taken out of its frame and left at the bottom of a steel trunk. It is remarkable that it survived! The photo has a 3 dimensional appearance, and my grandmother’s eyes seem to follow you as you move. Please also view Minnie’s photogallery.

Minnie's earliest memories would have probably been of her life in Drummers Creek when her family moved there about 1872 when she was two. Her father's involvement in establishing the Drummers Creek school in 1876 would have meant that she would have attended there as a 9 year old when the school (next door) opened on 5 April 1880. Minnie probably spent a lot of time in the sun in those early days. When I knew her as an old lady her face was very deeply wrinkled indicating early sun damage. There would have been plenty of outside work in those days. The "Southern Cross" Hotel garden would have needed care and her father would have continued his cattle interests. Then there was always the job of a house maid in the hotel.

In 1883 GHL and his two older sons each took up 160 acre Selections at nearby Walla. Next year, all the sons probably left the hotel to develop the Selections and meet their residence requirements.

Some subsequent details of Minnie's early family life can be seen in the section describing her mother’s life in chapter 6 … "GHL's Wife: Elizabeth DAVIS".

Now, please read on. The linked story about Minnie’s life with her mother has taken us up to her life in East Bundaberg… perhaps Minnie met her future husband David STRONG at Bundaberg. For details of David and the STRONG family, see my STRONG pages. My mother told me that David travelled around the Pacific working in a cruise ship. In his garage he had many mementos of those days, such as large clam shells, much coral and spears and arrows. Such a cruise ship would have visited Bundaberg, making a meeting possible. David and Minnie married in Sydney NSW on 8 Feb 1896 in the Congregational Manse, Allen Street Pyrmont NSW. In 1899 they were recorded at 123 Bourke St Paddington and then at 52 Palmer St., Wooloomooloo around 1906. My father told me that life around Wooloomooloo was rather violent in those days with razor gangs terrorising the locals. He also told me of German musical bands which were made welcome in their house and who taught him the "bad German words". Presumably Minnie kept her German language in the early years. Shortly after the STRONGs bought "WEDEMEYER", 18 Manning Road, Waverley with money probably received from David's father. They spent most of their life in "WEDEMEYER". It is significant that the house kept its German name during two world wars, even though many of such names were taken down or changed.

Life for Minnie was difficult in the 1910's since her husband David was in and out of work. My father got a good job in Government Stores and his money kept the household going. Minnie kept in close contact with her sister Maggie throughout their lives, and their homes were within walking distance.

Photo of Minnie's home at 18 Manning Rd Waverley, NSW Minnie's home: 18 Manning Rd Waverley, NSW
Photo: PD Strong, 2001

I can still revisit my childhood memories of "WEDEMEYER" and my grandparents at their home. I remember the long trip by a rattling tram from LANE Cove across the Harbour Bridge to Bondi Junction. Then there was the even longer walk downhill with my mother from the tram stop to 18 Manning Road, Waverley. "WEDEMEYER" was a dark Victorian era house with the curtains drawn, the electric lights used sparingly and the gas lights still remaining on the walls.

The front lounge room was for display only. My parents used to warn me that grandpa believed in "children are meant to be seen and not heard", particularly during the 7:00pm news broadcast. Grandpa was a tall grey bearded austere man and quite intimidating to me. However grandma was the warm and affectionate power behind the throne. She was a little wrinkled lady with a frail appearance and glasses with heavy lenses who seemed to do everything for grandpa. On one visit we found both of them sick and starving. Grandma had been sick and went to bed. Grandpa found his meals weren't being prepared for him and also went to bed. Consequently they both almost starved. We took them both to our home at Lane Cove, Sydney NSW and they lived with us until grandma died there on 6 Oct 1954, after a succession of little strokes. She was cremated and buried at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.

My cousin Barry tells me that Minnie said that one of our WEDEMEYERs emigrated to the USA from Germany. She also said that a cousin Colonel WEDEMEYER was stationed in Queensland during the war. I have copies of notes which John WEDEMEYER (son of Ivan WEDEMEYER) had made about General A.C WEDEMEYER. See here for more discussion and research about this possible relationship.

Now, as an adult, I wish that I could have talked to Minnie about her life... I'm sure she had many interesting stories, and as a "child meant to be seen and not heard" I really missed out.

Minnie’s Descendancy Report

 

Elizabeth WEDEMEYER

Johanna Elizabeth (Elizabeth) WEDEMEYER was born on 6 Jun 1872, in Gayndah, Queensland. Elizabeth is pictured below at three different stages of her life.

Photo of Elizabeth Johanna DAVIS Elizabeth J. DAVIS
Courtesy:Audrey Heeps

Elizabeth Johanna's family moved to Drummers Creek from Gayndah shortly after she was born in Jun 1872. Her father had advertised his application for the licence for the "Southern Cross" Hotel in Wolca Rd, Drummer's Creek, on 14 November 1872. Her father's involvement in establishing the Drummers Creek School in 1876 would have meant that she would have attended there as a 7 year old when the school (next door) opened on 5 April 1880. Apart from school, there would have been plenty of work in those days. The "Southern Cross" Hotel garden would have needed care and her father would have continued his cattle interests. Then there was always the job of a housemaid in the hotel.

Some subsequent details of Elizabeth’s early family life can be seen in the section describing her mother’s life in chapter 6 … "GHL's Wife: Elizabeth DAVIS".

Now, please read on. The linked story about Elizabeth’s life with her mother has taken us up to her life in East Bundaberg. At the time of their marriage on 15 Jan 1894 in Bundaberg, Elizabeth Johanna WEDEMEYER (a housemaid) lived at East Bundaberg and her husband John Edward (Jack) DAVIS (a tram driver) lived at Fairymead near Bundaberg.

The married life of Elizabeth Johanna and John Edward (Jack) DAVIS
John Edward DAVIS John Edward DAVIS
Courtesy: Audrey Heeps

Jack was born in Gayndah on 14 Jan 1870 to William DAVIS, bootmaker of Gayndah and Elizabeth DAVIS (née PINER). Jack DAVIS is pictured at left. See here for a Descendancy Report on Jack's parents. Further details and a photo of his parents at Gayndah are here.

When Jack married Elizabeth in Bundaberg he was driving horse drawn trams in the cane industry. After his marriage he then resumed timber cutting, using horse drawn teams to log rainforest timber.

Clarence, the youngest childClarence DAVIS b. 1917. Courtesy:Audrey Heeps

Athol DAVIS says that Jack worked near the Gympie, Imbil area until he shifted to Chinchilla. Life would be hard for the family moving between bush camps. The first known location was for the birth of their second child John Henry DAVIS, who was born at Murray's Creek on the Gladstone line on 29th August 1896.

Pictured at the right is a photo of their youngest child, Clarence. Please see here for a photo gallery of Elizabeth (Elizabeth) DAVIS (née WEDEMEYER), her husband and family in Chinchilla, Qld. The gallery contains photos which were kindly provided by Audrey Heeps (Elsie Beryl DAVIS descendant), Yvonne and Bob Kemp (John Henry DAVIS descendant), with some photos which Elizabeth sent to her sister Minnie (my grandmother) and in turn passed down to me by my father. Please have a look at these photos and tell me if you have better ones? Any copies of photos for this project would be gratefully received. Can you help?? Many photos have been small "Box Brownie" snaps which are not close up, or with broad brimmed felt hats obscuring the face, or even photostats which generate interference patterns when scanned… and so on.

Jack's obituary said he moved to Chinchilla 44 years before his death or ~1897. Jack and Elizabeth's first child William enrolled at Chinchilla State School in August 1901 and Jack's occupation was described as "Selector". This meant that Jack was one of the first selectors in the Chinchilla area participating in the seemingly very generous Queensland Government settlement schemes.

It should be noted that these selections often led to a great privation and Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis), in his books which included "On Our Selection" (publ. 1899) and "Grandpa's Selection" (publ. 1916), describes the problems of these Chinchilla settlers. Steele Rudd was born in 1868 about 170 km SE of Chinchilla.

Athol DAVIS says that his grandparents Jack and Elizabeth lived in the same home for 44 years and their house consisted of two huts joined together with a covered walk way between them and a cooking and washing area in a hut out the southern side..... just as if they did not intend to live there very long. Bob KEMP locates their home at the SE corner of Zeller and Price Streets on the outskirts of the town, east of the Showgrounds and south of the new industrial section of town.

I visited their land in 2005, to find no trace of the old home, but in its place there was "Austco Stayover", which was providing re-locatable housing for the workers at the Kogan Power Station construction. Chinchilla provided a home for Elizabeth, and Jack worked with his horses in the timber cutting industries and expanded into cattle and dairy.

 

Below are photos of the old Chinchilla home.

Jack DAVIS and family at the old Chinchilla Home Jack DAVIS and family at the old Chinchilla Home
Courtesy:Audrey Heeps

As the children became older, the whole (large) family was involved in the cattle, dairy or timber cutting industries. Athol said that Jack took his kids with him and taught them the timber industry. Jack's obituary says that he spent many years carrying provisions to Hawkwood station by horse team, but owing to a serious accident at Baking Board in ~ 1911, when he was run over by a loaded wagon, he had been unable to work since that time. Bob Kemp recollects that Jack and Elizabeth sold milk and farm produce around the town. Mr. RUSSELL who also sold eggs for them delivered their milk around the town. Athol DAVIS remembers that they used to show poultry at the Chinchilla Show and did quite well. When they died the place was abandoned for several years until sold." A full year before his death at age 70, Jack was described as a pensioner (in his son John Henry's marriage register records). Elizabeth died on 25 Apr 1942, and Jack died on 2 Mar 1940.

 

Pictured below is their grave. Elizabeth died on 25 Apr 1942, and Jack died on 2 Mar 1940.

Grave of Jack and Elizabeth DAVIS, Chinchilla. Grave of Jack and Elizabeth DAVIS, Chinchilla.
Photo: PD Strong, 2005

The small amount of information we have on Jack and Elizabeth suggests a very full and interesting life. It is hoped that these few paragraphs might prompt members of the DAVIS family to provide further information. Please look carefully at all the photos, since firm identifications are needed. My grandmother Minnie's photo (which I think was sent by Elizabeth) and labelled Photo sent from Elizabeth (?) to her sister Minnie with inscription "To Polka from Housewife" was identified on the basis of similarity with the other photos of the DAVIS children and also that the photo did not fit any other known family. Particularly, please look at this photo?

Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) made this dedication in his book "On Our Selection" (publ. 1899) directed to the Selectors and pioneers of the region, which included Chinchilla and the DAVIS family:

PIONEERS OF AUSTRALIA!
To You "Who Gave Our Country Birth;" to the memory of You whose names, whose giant enterprise, whose deeds of fortitude and daring were never engraved on tablet or tombstone; to You who strove through the silences of the Bush-lands and made them ours; to You who delved and toiled in loneliness through the years that have faded away; to You who have no place in the history of our Country so far as it is yet written; to You who have done MOST for this Land; to You for whom few, in the march of settlement, in the turmoil of busy city life, now appear to care; and to you particularly, GOOD OLD DAD, This Book is most affectionately dedicated. " STEELE RUDD."

Elizabeth’s Descendancy Report

The Story Continues